If the San Diego Padres’ season was a Western, it could be titled “The Good, the Bad and a lot of Ugly.”
The Padres completed their season Sunday with a ninth-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants, finishing in a tie with the Giants for third place in the National League West with a 76-86 record. For the sixth straight season — one dominated by injuries for a thin team that couldn’t afford them — there is no postseason for the Padres.
- Rookie Jedd Gyorko made a smooth transition from third base to second, while establishing himself as a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. Despite missing 30 games with a midseason groin injury, Gyorko led the Padres in home runs (23) and runs batted in (63). He led all rookies in homers and is the first rookie second baseman in baseball history to lead his team in RBI.
- Despite what seemed like scores of serious injuries to the pitching staff, several young starters established themselves in the rotation for next year, led by right-handers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. Hard-throwing Burch Smith showed promise, while left-handed veteran Eric Stults led the team with 11 victories, finishing strongly after struggling after the All-Star break.
- Outfielders Will Venable and Chris Denorfia, who started the season as the right-field platoon, had solid seasons while playing almost every day due to team injuries. Venable had his best season with 22 homers and 22 steals and signed a two-year contract extension. Denorfia hit .279 with 10 homers.
- Shortstop Everth Cabrera was the team’s lone All-Star, hitting a team-high .283 while stealing 37 bases.
- Closer Huston Street had 33 saves in 35 tries despite missing a month-plus with a ribcage injury.
- The season began with catcher Yasmani Grandal serving a 50-game suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs, and ended with Cabrera serving a similar suspension as part of the Biogenesis scandal.
- The Padres were terrible out of the gate, and had another terrible three-week stretch before the All-Star break that doomed them to a losing record. In April the pitching was terrible. In June the offense disappeared. The team had trouble all season hitting with runners in scoring position and was among MLB’s strikeout leaders, ranking fourth-worst in the NL. The Pads also ranked 24th among the 30 MLB teams in runs scored.
- Third baseman Chase Headley, an MVP candidate in 2012 when he led the league in RBI, began the season with a broken finger and never really rounded into form, finishing at .250 with 13 homers and 50 RBI — less than half his 2012 totals. Headley can be a free agent after 2014 and would like a multiyear deal, meaning the Padres must decide if he is really the 2012 All-Star, or 2013’s average dude.
- Opening Day pitcher Edinson Volquez was so maddeningly inconsistent that the Padres cut him and his 11-11 record in late August.
- The Padres’ season dissolved into chaos due to an almost unimaginable rash of injuries before the end of spring training. Promising young pitchers Cory Luebke, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly were all lost to Tommy John elbow ligament surgery. Then Clayton Richard went down with a shoulder injury that needed surgery. Then veteran Jason Marquis, arguably their best pitcher in April-May, joined the list of those needing elbow ligament surgery.
- Young players (and potential everyday players) Logan Forsythe and Kyle Blanks each missed considerable time with plantar fasciitis and must be considered question marks. Headley missed much of spring training and the first weeks of the season with a broken finger. First baseman Yonder Alonso suffered a broken wrist, missed time at midseason, then lost most of September when it flared up.
- Outfielder Cameron Maybin only got 51 at-bats as he battled a knee injury and a wrist ailment that finally required surgery. And slugger Carlos Quentin again played about a half-season before he underwent a third surgery on his right knee. Both hope to be sound by next spring.
Asked what the Padres could do to improve over the offseason, manager Bud Black quipped, “Health would be the biggest acquisition.”